Virginia Takes Another Motor Ride





Lee Virginia's efforts to refine the little hotel produced an amazing

change in Eliza Wetherford's affairs. The dining-room swarmed with those

seeking food, and as the news of the girl's beauty went out upon the

range, the cowboys sought excuse to ride in and get a square meal and a

glimpse of the "Queen" whose hand had witched "the old shack" into a

marvel of cleanliness.



Say what you will, beauty is a sovereign appeal. These men, unspeakably

profane, cruel, and obscene in their saddle-talk, were awed by the fresh

linen, the burnished glass, and the well-ordered tables which they found

in place of the flies, the dirt, and the disorder of aforetime. "It's

worth a day's ride just to see that girl for a minute," declared one

enthusiast.



They did not all use the napkins, but they enjoyed having them there

beside their plates, and the subdued light, the freedom from insects

impressed them almost to decorum. They entered with awe, avid for a word

with "Lize Wetherford's girl." Generally they failed of so much as a

glance at her, for she kept away from the dining-room at meal-time.



Lee Virginia was fully aware of this male curiosity, and vaguely conscious

of the merciless light which shone in the eyes of some of them (men like

Gregg), who went about their game with the shameless directness of the

brute. She had begun to understand, too, that her mother's reputation was

a barrier between the better class of folk and herself; but as they came

now and again to take a meal, they permitted themselves a word in her

praise, which she resented. "I don't want their friendship now," she

declared, bitterly.



As she gained courage to look about her, she began to be interested in

some of her coatless, collarless boarders on account of their

extraordinary history. There was Brady, the old government scout, retired

on a pension, who was accustomed to sit for hours on the porch, gazing

away over the northern plains--never toward the mountains--as if he

watched for bear or bison, or for the files of hostile red hunters--though

in reality there was nothing to see but the stage, coming and going, or a

bunch of cowboys galloping into town. Nevertheless, every cloud of dust

was to him diversion, and he appeared to dream, like a captive eagle,

bedraggled, spiritless, but with an inner spark of memory burning deep in

his dim blue eyes.



Then there was an old miner, distressingly filthy, who hobbled to his

meals on feet that had been frozen into clubs. He had a little gold loaned

at interest, and on this he lived in tragic parsimony. He and the old

scout sat much together, usually without speech (each knew to the last

word the other's stories), as if they recognized each other's utter

loneliness.



Sifton, the old remittance man, had been born to a higher culture,

therefore was his degradation the deeper. His poverty was due to his

weakness. Virginia was especially drawn toward him by reason of his

inalienable politeness and his well-chosen words. He was always the

gentleman--no matter how frayed his clothing.



So far as the younger men were concerned, she saw little to admire and

much to hate. They were crude and uninteresting rowdies for the most part.

She was put upon her defence by their glances, and she came to dread

walking along the street, so open and coarse were their words of praise.

She felt dishonored by the glances which her feet drew after her, and she

always walked swiftly to and from the store or the post-office.



Few of these loafers had the courage to stand on their feet and court her

favor, but there was one who speedily became her chief persecutor. This

was Neill Ballard, celebrated (and made impudent) by two years' travel

with a Wild West show. He was tall, lean, angular, and freckled, but his

horsemanship was marvellous and his skill with the rope magical. His

special glory consisted in a complicated whirling of the lariat. In his

hand the limp, inert cord took on life, grace, charm. It hung in the air

or ran in rhythmic waves about him, rising, falling, expanding,

diminishing, as if controlled by some agency other than a man's hand, and

its gyrations had won much applause in the Eastern cities, where such

skill is expected of the cowboys.



He had lost his engagement by reason of a drunken brawl, and he was now

living with his sister, the wife of a small rancher near by. He was vain,

lazy, and unspeakably corrupt, full of open boasting of his exploits in

the drinking-dens of the East. No sooner did he fix eyes upon Virginia

than he marked her for his special prey. He had the depraved heart of the

herder and the insolent confidence of the hoodlum, and something of this

the girl perceived. She despised the other men, but she feared this one,

and quite justly, for he was capable of assaulting and binding her with

his rope, as he had once done with a Shoshone squaw.



The Greggs, father and son, were in open rivalry for Lee also, but in

different ways. The older man, who had already been married several times,

was disposed to buy her hand in what he called "honorable wedlock," but

the son, at heart a libertine, approached her as one who despised the

West, and who, being kept in the beastly country by duty to a parent, was

ready to amuse himself at any one's expense. He had no purpose in life but

to feed his body and escape toil.



There are women to whom all this warfare would have been diverting, but it

was not so to Lee. Her sense of responsibility was too keen. It was both a

torture and a shame. The chivalry of the plains, of which she had read so

much--and which she supposed she remembered--was gone. She doubted if it

had ever existed among these centaurs. Why should it inhere in ignorant,

brutal plainsmen any more than in ignorant, brutal factory hands?



There came to her, now and again, gentle old ranchers--"grangers," they

would be called--and shy boys from the farms, but for the most part the

men she saw embittered her, and she kept out of their sight as much as

possible. Her keenest pleasures, almost her only pleasures, lay in the

occasional brief visits of the ranger, as he rode in for his mail.



Lize perceived all these attacks on her daughter, and was infuriated by

them. She snapped and snarled like a tigress leading her half-grown kitten

through a throng of leopards. Her brows were knotted with care as well as

with pain, and she incessantly urged Virginia to go back to Sulphur. "I'll

send you money to pay your board till you strike a job." But to this the

girl would not agree; and the business, by reason of her presence, went on

increasing from day to day.



To Redfield Lize one day confessed her pain. "I ought to send for that

doctor up there, but the plain truth is I'm afraid of him. I don't want to

know what's the matter of me. It's his job to tell me I'm sick and I'm

scared of his verdict."



"Nonsense," he replied; "you can't afford to put off getting him much

longer. I'm going back to-night, but I'll be over again to-morrow. Why

don't you let me bring him down? It will save you twelve dollars. And, by

the way, suppose you let me take Lee Virginia home with me? She looks a

bit depressed; an outing will do her good. She's taken hold here

wonderfully."



"Hasn't she! But I should have sent her away the very first night. I'm

getting to depend on her. I'm plumb foolish about her now--can't let her

out of my sight; and yet I'm off my feed worryin' over her. Gregg is

getting dangerous--you can't fool me when it comes to men. Curse 'em,

they're all alike--beasts, every cussed one of them. I won't have my girl

mistreated, I tell you that! I'm not fit to be her mother, now that's the

God's truth, Reddy, and this rotten little back-country cow-town is no

place for her. But what can I do? She won't leave me so long as I'm sick,

and every day ties her closer to me. I don't know what I'd do without her.

If I'm goin' to die I want her by me when I take my drop. So you see just

how I'm placed."



She looked yellow and drawn as she ended, and Redfield was moved by her

unwonted tenderness.



"Now let me advise," he began, after a moment's pause. "We musn't let the

girl get homesick. I'll take her home with me this afternoon, and bring

her back along with a doctor to-morrow."



"All right, but before you go I want to have a private talk--I want to

tell you something."



He warned her away from what promised to be a confession. "Now, now,

Eliza, don't tell me anything that requires that tone of voice; I'm a bad

person to keep a secret, and you might be sorry for it. I don't want to

know anything more about your business than I can guess."



"I don't mean the whiskey trade," she explained. "I've cut that all out

anyway. It's something more important--it's about Ed and me."



"I don't want to hear that either," he declared. "Let bygones be

bygones. What you did then is outlawed, anyway. Those were fierce times,

and I want to forget them." He looked about. "Let me see this Miss

Virginia and convey to her Mrs. Redfield's invitation."



"She's in the kitchen, I reckon. Go right out."



He was rather glad of a chance to see the young reformer in action, and

smiled as he came upon her surrounded by waiters and cooks, busily

superintending the preparations for the noon meal, which amounted to a

tumult each day.



She saw Redfield, nodded, and a few moments later came toward him, flushed

and beaming with welcome. "I'm glad to see you again, Mr. Supervisor."



He bowed profoundly. "I'm delighted to find you well, Miss Virginia, and

doubly pleased to see you in your regimentals, which you mightily adorn."



She looked down at her apron. "I made this myself. Do you know our

business is increasing wonderfully? I'm busy every moment of the day till

bedtime."



"Indeed I do know it. I hear of the Wetherford House all up and down the

line. I was just telling your mother she'll be forced to build bigger,

like the chap in the Bible."



"She works too hard. Poor mother! I try to get her to turn the cash-drawer

over to me, but she won't do it. Doesn't she seem paler and weaker to

you?"



"She does, indeed, and this is what I came in to propose. Mrs. Redfield

sends by me a formal invitation to you to visit Elk Lodge. She is not

quite able to take the long ride, else she'd come to you." Here he handed

her a note. "I suggest that you go up with me this afternoon, and

to-morrow we'll fetch the doctor down to see your mother. What do you say

to that?"



Her eyes were dewy with grateful appreciation of his kindness as she

answered: "That would be a great pleasure, Mr. Redfield, if mother feels

able to spare me."



"I've talked with her; she is anxious to have you go."



Virginia was indeed greatly pleased and pleasantly excited by this

message, for she had heard much of Mrs. Redfield's exclusiveness, and also

of the splendor of her establishment. She hurried away to dress with such

flutter of joyous anticipation that Redfield felt quite repaid for the

pressure he had put upon his wife to induce her to write that note. "You

may leave Lize Wetherford out of the count, my dear," he had said. "There

is nothing of her discernible in the girl. Virginia is a lady. I don't

know where she got it, but she's a gentlewoman by nature."



Lize said: "Don't you figure on me in any way, Reddy. I'm nothing but the

old hen that raised up this lark, and all I'm a-livin' for now is to make

her happy. Just you cut me out when it comes to any question about your

wife and Virginia. I'm not in their class."



It was hot and still in the town, but no sooner was the car in motion than

both heat and dust were forgotten. Redfield's machine was not large, and

as he was content to go at moderate speed, conversation was possible.



He was of that sunny, optimistic, ever-youthful nature which finds delight

in human companionship under any conditions whatsoever. He accepted this

girl for what she seemed--a fresh, unspoiled child. He saw nothing cheap

or commonplace in her, and was not disposed to impose any of her father's

wild doings upon her calendar. He had his misgivings as to her

future--that was the main reason why he had said to Mrs. Redfield, "The

girl must be helped." Afterward he had said "sustained."



It was inevitable that the girl should soon refer to the ranger, and

Redfield was as complimentary of him as she could wish. "Ross hasn't a

fault but one, and that's a negative one: he doesn't care a hang about

getting on, as they say over in England. He's content just to do the duty

of the moment. He made a good cow-puncher and a good soldier; but as for

promotion, he laughs when I mention it."



"He told me that he hoped to be Chief Forester," protested Virginia.



"Oh yes, he says that; but do you know, he'd rather be where he is, riding

over the hills, than live in London. You should see his cabin some time.

It's most wonderful, really. His walls are covered with bookshelves of his

own manufacture, and chairs of his own design. Where the boy got the

skill, I don't see. Heaven knows, his sisters are conventional enough!

He's capable of being Supervisor, but he won't live in town and work in an

office. He's like an Indian in his love of the open."



All this was quite too absorbingly interesting to permit of any study of

the landscape, which went by as if dismissed by the chariot wheels of some

contemptuous magician. Redfield's eyes were mostly on the road (in the

manner of the careful driver), but when he did look up it was to admire

the color and poise of his seat-mate, who made the landscape of small

account.



She kept the conversation to the desired point. "Mr. Cavanagh's work

interests me very much. It seems very important; and it must be new, for I

never heard of a forest ranger when I was a child."



"The forester is new--at least, in America," he answered. "My dear young

lady, you are returned just in the most momentous period in the history of

the West. The old dominion--the cattle-range--is passing. The supremacy of

the cowboy is ended. The cow-boss is raising oats, the cowboy is pitching

alfalfa, and swearing horribly as he blisters his hands. Some of the

rangers at the moment are men of Western training like Ross, but whose

allegiance is now to Uncle Sam. With others that transfer of allegiance is

not quite complete, hence the insolence of men like Gregg, who think they

can bribe or intimidate these forest guards, and so obtain favors; the

newer men are college-bred, real foresters. But you can't know what it all

means till you see Ross, or some other ranger, on his own heath. We'll

make up a little party some day and drop down upon him, and have him show

us about. It's a lonely life, and so the ranger keeps open house. Would

you like to go?"



"Oh, yes indeed! I'm eager to get into the mountains. Every night as I see

the sun go down over them I wonder what the world is like up there."



Then he began very delicately to inquire about her Eastern experience.

There was not much to tell. In a lovely old town not far from

Philadelphia, where her aunt lived, she had spent ten years of happy

exile. "I was horribly lonely and homesick at first," she said. "Mother

wrote only short letters, and my father never wrote at all. I didn't know

he was dead then. He was always good to me. He wasn't a bad man, was he?"



"No," responded Redfield, without hesitation. "He was very like the rest

of us--only a little more reckless and a little more partisan, that's all.

He was a dashing horseman and a dead-shot, and so, naturally, a leader of

these daredevils. He was popular with both sides of the controversy up to

the very moment when he went South to lead the invaders against the

rustlers."



"What was it all about? I never understood it. What were they fighting

about?"



"In a sense, it was all very simple. You see, Uncle Sam, in his careless,

do-nothing way, has always left his range to whomever got there first, and

that was the cattle-man. At first there was grass enough for us all, but

as we built sheds and corrals about watering-places we came to claim

rights on the range. We usually secured by fraud homesteads in the

sections containing water, and so, gun in hand, 'stood off' the man who

came after. Gradually, after much shooting and lawing, we parcelled out

the range and settled down covering practically the whole State. Our

adjustments were not perfect, but our system was working smoothly for us

who controlled the range. We had convinced ourselves, and pretty nearly

everybody else, that the State was only fit for cattle-grazing, and that

we were the most competent grazers; furthermore, we were in possession,

and no man could come in without our consent.



"However, a very curious law of our own making was our undoing. Of course

the 'nester' or 'punkin roller,' as we contemptuously called the small

farmer, began sifting in here and there in spite of our guns, but he was

only a mosquito bite in comparison with the trouble which our cow-punchers

stirred up. Perhaps you remember enough about the business to know that an

unbranded yearling calf without its mother is called a maverick?"



"Yes, I remember that. It belongs to the man who finds him, and brands

him."



"Precisely. Now that law worked very nicely so long as the poor cowboy was

willing to catch and brand him for his employer, but it proved a 'joker'

when he woke up and said to his fellows: 'Why brand these mavericks at

five dollars per head for this or that outfit when the law says it belongs

to the man who finds him?'"



Lee Virginia looked up brightly. "That seems right to me!"



"Ah yes; but wait. We cattle-men had large herds, and the probabilities

were that the calf belonged to some one of us; whereas, the cowboy, having

no herd at all, knew the maverick belonged to some one's herd. True, the

law said it was his, but the law did not mean to reward the freebooter;

yet that is exactly what it did. At first only a few outlaws took

advantage of it; but hard years came on, the cattle business became less

and less profitable, we were forced to lay off our men, and so at last the

range swarmed with idle cow-punchers; then came the breakdown in our

scheme! The cowboys took to 'mavericking' on their own account. Some of

them had the grace to go into partnership with some farmer, and so claim a

small bunch of cows, but others suddenly and miraculously acquired herds

of their own. From keeping within the law, they passed to violent methods.

They slit the tongues of calves for the purpose of separating them from

their mothers. Finding he could not suck, bossy would at last wander away

from his dam, and so become a 'maverick.' In short, anarchy reigned on the

range."



"But surely my father had nothing to do with this?"



"No; your father, up to this time, had been on good terms with everybody.

He had a small herd of cattle down the river, which he owned in common

with a man named Hart."



"I remember him."



"He was well thought of by all the big outfits; and when the situation

became intolerable, and we got together to weed out 'the rustlers,' as

these cattle-thieves were called, your father was approached and converted

to a belief in drastic measures. He had suffered less than the rest of us

because of his small herd and the fact that he was very popular among the

cowboys. So far as I was concerned, the use of violent methods revolted

me. My training in the East had made me a respecter of the law. 'Change

the law,' I said. 'The law is all right,' they replied; 'the trouble is

with these rustlers. We'll hang a few of 'em, and that will break up the

business.'"



Parts of this story came back to the girl's mind, producing momentary

flashes of perfect recollection. She heard again the voices of excited men

arguing over and over the question of "mavericking," and she saw her

father as he rode up to the house that last day before he went South.



Redfield went on. "The whole plan as developed was silly, and I wonder

still that Ed Wetherford, who knew 'the nester' and the cowboy so well,

should have lent his aid to it. The cattle-men--some from Cheyenne, some

from Denver, and a few from New York and Chicago--agreed to finance a sort

of Vigilante Corps composed of men from the outside, on the understanding

that this policing body should be commanded by one of their own number.

Your father was chosen second in command, and was to guide the party; for

he knew almost every one of the rustlers, and could ride directly to their

doors."



"I wish he hadn't done that," murmured the girl.



"I must be frank with you, Virginia. I can't excuse that in him. It was a

kind of treachery. He must have been warped by his associates. They

convinced him by some means that it was his duty, and one fine day the

Fork was startled by a messenger, who rode in to say that the

cattle-barons were coming with a hundred Texas bad men 'to clean out the

town,' and to put their own men into office. This last was silly rot to

me, but the people believed it."



The girl was tingling now. "I remember! I remember the men who rode into

the town to give the alarm. Their horses were white with foam; their heads

hung down, and their sides went in and out. I pitied the poor things.

Mother jumped on her pony, and rode out among the men. She wanted to go

with them, but they wouldn't let her. I was scared almost breathless."



"I was in Sulphur City, and did not hear of it till it was nearly all

over," Redfield resumed, his speech showing a little of the excitement

which thrilled through the girl's voice. "Well, the first act of vengeance

was so ill-considered that it practically ended the whole campaign. The

invaders fell upon and killed two ranchers--one of whom was probably not a

rustler at all, but a peaceable settler, and the other one they most

barbarously hanged. More than this, they attacked and vainly tried to kill

two settlers whom they met on the road--German farmers, with no

connection, so far as known, with the thieves. These men escaped, and gave

the alarm. In a few hours the whole range was aflame with vengeful fire.

The Forks, as you may recall, was like a swarm of bumblebees. Every man

and boy was armed and mounted. The storekeepers distributed guns and

ammunition, leaders developed, and the embattled 'punkin rollers,'

rustlers, and townsmen rode out to meet the invaders."



The girl paled with memory of it. "It was terrible! I went all day without

eating, and for two nights we were all too excited to sleep. It seemed as

if the world were coming to an end. Mother cried because they wouldn't let

her go with them. She didn't know father was leading the other army."



"She must have known soon, for it was reported that your father was among

them. She certainly knew when they were driven to earth in that log fort,

for they were obliged to restrain her by force from going to your father.

As I run over those furious days it all seems incredible, like a sudden

reversal to barbarism."



"How did it all end? The soldiers came, didn't they?"



"Yes; the long arm of Uncle Sam reached out and took hold upon the necks

of both parties. I guess your father and his band would have died right

there had not the regular army interfered. It only required a sergeant

wearing Uncle Sam's uniform to come among those armed and furious cowboys

and remove their prisoners."



"I saw that. It was very strange--that sergeant was so young and so

brave."



He turned and smiled at her. "Do you know who that was?"



Her eyes flashed. She drew her breath with a gasp. "Was it Mr. Cavanagh?"



"Yes, it was Ross. He was serving in the regular army at the time. He has

told me since that he felt no fear whatever. 'Uncle Sam's blue coat was

like Siegfried's magic armor,' he said; 'it was the kind of thing the

mounted police of Canada had been called upon to do many a time, and I

went in and got my men.' That ended the war, so far as violent measures

went, and it really ended the sovereignty of the cattle-man. The power of

the 'nester' has steadily increased from that moment."



"But my father--what became of him? They took him away to the East, and

that is all I ever knew. What do you think became of him?"



"I could never make up my mind. All sorts of rumors come to us concerning

him. As a matter of fact, the State authorities sympathized with the

cattle-barons, and my own opinion is that your father was permitted to

escape. He was afterward seen in Texas, and later it was reported that he

had been killed there."



The girl sat still, listening to the tireless whir of the machine, and

looking out at the purpling range with tear-mist eyes. At last she said:

"I shall never think of my father as a bad man, he was always so gentle to

me."



"You need not condemn him, my dear young lady. First of all, it's not fair

to bring him (as he was in those days) forward into these piping times of

dairy cows and alfalfa. The people of the Forks--some of them, at

least--consider him a traitor, and regard you as the daughter of a

renegade, but what does it matter? Each year sees the Old West diminish,

and already, in the work of the Forest Service, law and order advance.

Notwithstanding all the shouting of herders and the beating to death of

sheep, no hostile shot has ever been fired within the bounds of a National

Forest. In the work of the forest rangers lies the hope of ultimate peace

and order over all the public lands."



The girl fell silent again, her mind filled with larger conceptions of

life than her judgment had hitherto been called upon to meet. She knew

that Redfield was right, and yet that world of the past--the world of the

swift herdsman and his trampling, long-horned, half-wild kine still

appealed to her imagination. The West of her girlhood seemed heroic in

memory; even the quiet account of it to which she had just listened could

not conceal its epic largeness of movement. The part which troubled her

most was her father's treachery to his neighbors. That he should fight,

that he should kill men in honorable warfare, she could understand; but

not his recreancy, his desertion of her mother and herself.



She came back to dwell at last on the action of that slim young soldier

who had calmly ridden through the infuriated mob. She remembered that she

had thrilled even then at the vague and impersonal power which he

represented. To her childish mind he seemed to bear a charm, like the

heroes of her story-books--something which made him invulnerable.



After a long pause Redfield spoke again. "The memory of your father will

make life for a time a bit hard for you in Roaring Fork--perhaps your

mother's advice is sound. Why not come to Sulphur City, which is almost

entirely of the new spirit?"



"If I can get my mother to come, too, I will be glad to do so, for I hate

the Fork; but I will not leave her there, sick and alone."



"Much depends upon the doctor's examination to-morrow."



They had topped the divide now between the Fork and Sulphur Creek Basin,

and the green fields, the alfalfa meadows, and the painted farm-houses

thickened beneath them. Strange how significant all these signs were now.

A few days ago they had appeared doubtful improvements, now they

represented the oncoming dominion of the East. They meant cleanliness and

decent speech, good bread and sweet butter. Ultimately houses with hot

water in their bath-rooms and pianos in their parlors would displace the

shack, the hitching-pole, and the dog-run, and in those days Edward

Wetherford would be forgotten.



Redfield swept through the town, then turned up the stream directly toward

the high wall of the range, which was ragged and abrupt at this point.

They passed several charming farm-houses, and the western sky grew ever

more glorious with its plum-color and saffron, and the range reasserted

its mastery over the girl. At last they came to the very jaws of the

canon; and there, in a deep natural grove of lofty cottonwood-trees,

Redfield passed before a high rustic gate which marked the beginning of

his estate. The driveway was of gravel, and the intermingling of

transplanted shrubs and pine-trees showed the care of the professional

gardener.



The house was far from being a castle; indeed, it was very like a house in

Bryn-Mawr, except that it was built entirely of half-hewn logs, with a

wide projecting roof. Giant hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs bordered

the drive, and on the rustic terrace a lady in white was waiting.



Redfield slowed down, and scrambled ungracefully out; but his voice was

charming as he said: "Eleanor, this it Miss Wetherford. She was on the

point of getting the blues, so I brought her away," he explained.



Mrs. Redfield, quite as urban as the house, was a slim little woman of

delicate habit, very far from the ordinary conception of a rancher's wife.

Her manner was politely considerate, but not heatedly cordial (the visitor

was not precisely hers), and though she warmed a little after looking into

Virginia's face, she could not by any stretch of phrase be called

cordial.



"Are you tired? would you like to lie down before dinner?" she asked.



"Oh no, indeed. Nothing ever tires me," Virginia responded, with a smile.



"You look like one in perfect health," continued her hostess, in the

envious tone of one who knew all too well what ill-health meant. "Let me

show you to your room."



The house was not precisely the palace the cowboy had reported it to be,

but it was charmingly decorated, and the furnishings were tasteful. To the

girl it was as if she had been transported with instant magic from the

horrible little cow-town back to the home of one of her dearest friends in

Chester. She was at once exalted and humbly grateful.



"We dine at seven," Mrs. Redfield was saying, "so you can take a cup of

tea without spoiling your dinner. Will you venture it?"



"If you please."



"Very well; come down soon, and I'll have it ready. Mr. Redfield, I'm

sure, will want some."



Virginia's heart was dancing with delight of this home as she came down

the stairs a little later. She found Mr. Redfield at the farther end of a

long sitting-room, whose dim light was as restful (after the glare of the

tawny plains) as the voice of her hostess was to her ears, which still

ached with the noise of profane and vulgar speech.



Redfield heard her coming and met her half-way, and with stately ceremony

showed her a seat. "I fear you will need something stronger than tea after

my exhausting conversation."



"I hope, Hugh, you were not in one of your talking moods?"



"I was, Eleanor. I talked incessantly, barring an occasional jolt of the

machine."



"You poor thing!" This to Virginia. "Truly you deserve a two hours' rest

before dinner, for our dinner is always a talk-fest, and to-night, with

Senator Bridges here, it will be a convention."



He turned to Virginia. "We were talking old times 'before the war,' and

you know it never tires veterans to run over their ancient campaigns--does

it, Lee Virginia?"



As they talked Mrs. Redfield studied the girl with increasing interest and

favor, and soon got at her point of view. She even secured a little more

of her story, which matched fairly well with the account her husband had

given. Her prejudices were swept away, and she treated her young guest as

one well-born and well-educated woman treats another.



At last she said: "We dress for dinner, but any frock you have will do. We

are not ironclad in our rules. There will be some neighbors in, but it

isn't in any sense a 'party.'"



Lee Virginia went to her room, borne high upon a new conception of the

possibilities of the West. It was glorious to think that one could enjoy

the refinement, the comfort of the East at the same time that one dwelt

within the inspiring shadow of the range. She caught some prophetic hint

in all this of the future age when each of these foot-hills would be

peopled by those to whom cleanliness of mind and grace of body were

habitual. Standing on the little balcony which filled the front of her

windows, she looked away at the towering heights, smoky purple against a

sky of burning gold, and her eyes expanded like those of the young eagle

when about to launch himself upon the sunset wind.



The roar of a waterfall came to her ears, and afar on the sage-green

carpet of the lower mesa a horseman was galloping swiftly. Far to the left

of this smoothly sculptured table-land a band of cattle fed, while under

her eyes, formal as a suburban home, lay a garden of old-fashioned English

flowers. It was a singular and moving union of the old and new--the East

and the West.



On her table and on the pretty bookshelves she found several of the latest

volumes of poetry and essays, and the bed, with its dainty covering and

ample spread, testified quite as plainly of taste and comfort. Her hands

were a-tremble as she put on the bright muslin gown which was all she had

for evening wear. She felt very much like the school-girl again, and after

she had done her best to look nice, she took a seat in the little rocker,

with intent to compose herself for her meeting with strangers. "I wish we

were dining without visitors," she said, as she heard a carriage drive up.

A little later a galloping horse entered the yard and stopped at the

door.



"It all sounds like a play," she said to herself, forgetting for the

moment that she was miles away from a town and in a lonely ranch-house

under the very shadows of the mountains.



She heard voices in the hall, and among them one with a very English

accent--one that sounded precisely like those she had heard on the stage.

It was the voice of a man, big, hearty, with that thick, throaty gurgle

which is so suggestive of London that one is certain to find a tweed suit

and riding-breeches associated with it.



At last she dared wait no longer, and taking courage from necessity,

descended the stairs--a pleasant picture of vigorous yet somewhat subdued

maidenhood.





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